Thursday, April 30, 2020

1400 Henderson Highway - Former North Kildonan Municipal Offices

Place: Former North Kildonan Municipal Offices / John Dixon Memorial Park
Address: 1400 Henderson Highway (Map)
Constructed: 1956
Architect: Uknown
Contractor: Unknown

January 30, 1924, Winnipeg Tribune

The Rural Municipality of North Kildonan was established in 1925 after it split from the Municipality of East Kildonan. People in the north, many of whom were small hold farmers, were concerned about the amount of urban development coming to the municipality. They wanted to retain their semi-rural lifestyle and not one day be faced with urban tax bills on their large, agricultural lots.

The Rural Municipality of North Kildonan came into being on January 1, 1925 with H. C. Whellams as reeve. (If youw ant to read more about the early history of North Kildonan, see this accompanying post at my West End Dumplings blog.)

The first municipal offices for North Kildonan were located in rented offices on the second floor of the Imperial Bank Building at Main Street at Bannatyne Avenue. This was part of a bid to keep taxes low as the municipality owned no suitable buildings in the community and did not want the expense of constructing one.

Suburban development after World War II began to change the nature of North Kildonan. As the population swelled to over 4,000 in the early 1950s the tax base increased along with the demand for more urban services. With so much development going on, having its offices two municipalities away in downtown Winnipeg was no longer an option.

Source: City of Winnipeg Archives via North West Winnipeg Historical Society

In February 1956 the municipal council approved the purchase of land for new municipal offices from Cornelius and Gladys Lemmen for $2,000.

The building was constructed in 1956 - 1957 at a cost of nearly $31,000. It is 4,700 square feet in size spread over the main floor and full basement. The original layout contained a large general office, private office, council chamber and a public foyer.

The municipalities' public works department was located behind the building which had a large garage for machinery and vehicles. There was also a house built for the head of public works.

The official opening took place on March 16, 1956 in front of a crowd of over 200 people. Mayor Jack Pierce presided over the ceremonies. The first council meeting was held in the building ten days later.

Located to the south of the building is a small park.

In 1968, the North Kildonan war memorial was erected in the park. It reads: “In memory of those who fell in defence of our Country 1914 - 1918,  1939 - 1945, Korea 1950 - 1953; Lest we Forget.” (The memorial was moved from the site in 2019)

The park was renamed John Dixon Park in 1969 after a monument bearing his name was laid on the grounds. Scottish-born Dixon served for five years on the North Kildonan school board and was elected mayor in 1957, 1959 and 1961. He died of a heart attack while in office on December 14, 1961 at the age of 57.

On December 31, 1971, the Rural Municipality of North Kildonan was dissolved and the building became property of the City of Winnipeg.

In 1972, it was leased by the province for use by its department of health and social development. This lease was then picked up by the WRHA after its creation in 1999 until 2003.

A major renovation of the building took place in 2007 so that it could be used as a Winnipeg Police Service Centre. The most noticeable change to the building was the addition of the orange clad accessible entrance at the front which allows wheelchair access to both levels.

The Police service used the building from 2008 to 2014. Since then it has been vacant, declared surplus by the city and put up for sale.

Source: Lord Kitchener 50th Anniversary book

More photos of the site

© 2020 Christian Cassidy